I had the opportunity to hear about the Teen REACH Program in Quincy last Friday at the Quincy Exchange Club and it opened my eyes as well as the eyes of the other members of that organization. Mike Nobis and Dennis Williams were the Teen Reach Program speakers. For those unaware, including me prior to Friday’s meeting, dozens of Quincy kids go to the Teen REACH Center after school for help with homework and just to have a safe place to go.

The program is successful in that most of the kids start off with failing grades and end up with A's and B's. These kids, according to Mr. Nobis, are living day to day just to survive. Their future doesn't exist in their minds, but Teen REACH is trying to change that mindset. Their battle isn't with the kids involved but with the parents and social lifestyles they deal with.

The after school program at Irving School gives the kids discipline and provides some structure in their lives and they welcome it. With the program being Monday through Friday after school, they collectively hate weekends and holidays when they are forced back into a home environment that is unsettling and in many cases dangerous.

Mr. Williams stated that in many cases these kids are given hope that they will just be able to get through the night and return to school the next day safely. Mr. Williams told a story of a 6th grader who was passed around from Mom to Grandma, back to a prison released Mom and lived in St. Louis, Springfield, Chicago and eventually got to Quincy. He was small for his size and got into a fight in school and was expelled. He got home and was whipped again by his parents for being expelled. He wanted to leave, but stayed for his little brother's sake.

Mr. Williams also spoke of a 16-year-old girl who had an abusive and drunk mother who would fight with her six kids, including her smallest son. The mom would leave at midnight and go out, leaving the 16-year-old with her five siblings to watch over. These were just two of many stories that could be told each and every day in Quincy. How sad!

Other than monetary donations the thing they need is for the business community to offer any job or job shadow opportunities that these kids could get involved with. The businessmen and women are also invited to drop by anytime Monday through Friday at Irving School to see just what they do there.

It was an eye-opening conversation and one that told the story of the wonderful work being done by the Teen REACH program in Quincy.